Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder: How to Recognize the Signs of ADD, ADHD in Children, Adult

In order to obtain a proper diagnosis of ADD, a medical doctor needs to perform a series of tests that will rule out other possible diseases that may mimic ADD. Recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of ADD can help people take the first step toward receiving treatment for attention deficit disorder.

According to Dr. David B. Sudderth, the symptoms of ADD are present in children before the age of seven. If adult ADD is suspected, a complete childhood history can help determine if the symptoms existed in the patient as a young child. If ADD is suspected in a child, the parent can provide the necessary details to the physician to help start the process of testing and treatment.

The following symptoms of ADD are noted in the young child, or in the childhood history of the ADD adult:

Inattentive: The Inability to Pay Attention is One Possible Symptom

Inattention is one of the two criteria that should be present in a child, starting before the age of seven, to help determine if the patient may suffer from attention deficit disorder. Dr. Sudderth explains that if six of the following symptoms have been present for a time period that lasts longer than six months at a time, the patient may be suffering from ADD:

  • Careless mistakes or the failure to pay close attention in work situations, such as school
  • Difficulty paying attention to tasks or play activities
  • Failure to listen when being talked to
  • Inability to complete schoolwork, chores, etc., or follow instructions
  • Lack of ability to organize tasks efficiently
  • Avoidance of mental activities and tasks that are disliked
  • Habit of losing objects required to perform important tasks
  • Easy distraction by irrelevant stimuli
  • Forgetfulness in everyday activities

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Hyperactivity or Impulsivity are Possible Symptoms of ADD

To warrant further investigation of ADD, patients must exhibit symptoms from the above checklist of “inattention” or symptoms from the following list of “hyperactivity-impulsivity.” Dr. Sudderth gives a checklist of “hyperactivity-impulsivity” symptoms to be conscious of, and explains that four of the following symptoms that have persisted for more than six months at one time will qualify under this section:



  • Regular fidgeting of the hands or feet or inability to sit still
  • Inability to remain in one’s seat, for example in a classroom, when sitting in one place is expected
  • Feelings of restlessness or inappropriate running around or climbing
  • Difficulty participating in leisure activities


  • Difficulty remaining in a line patiently, or waiting one’s turn when necessary, such as during a game
  • Blurting out the answer to a question before it has been completed

Other Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder

If the patient’s childhood symptoms fall into one of the two categories above, then other symptoms can be assessed. Attention deficit disorder tends to disrupt at least two facets of an individual’s life, such as work, school or home, and has a significant debilitating effect in those areas. It is important that other underlying mental or personality disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia, are not occurring simultaneously with these symptoms, as that may be caused by other underlying factors.

Importance of Recognizing Symptoms of ADD

The sooner that ADD symptoms are recognized, the sooner further testing can be completed by a qualified medical doctor. If any of the above symptoms are noted in a child or in the history of a potential ADD patient, a physician should be contacted in order to begin the next steps in treatment. Proper diagnosing and treatment of ADD can lead to a more fulfilling and productive life for those who are suffering.